Using Biology as a Potential Defense

Synthetic biology allows and promotes the production or alteration of biological organisms, often for beneficial purposes like reducing diseases and improving agricultural output. While well-intentioned, this innovative field also presents potential risks that could leave many populations vulnerable and threaten livelihoods. Our reports examine the opportunities and concerns surrounding synthetic biology, and offer recommendations to guide this discussion and address these challenges.

Biodefense in the Age of Synthetic Biology

Scientific advances over the past several decades have accelerated the ability to engineer existing organisms and to potentially create novel ones not found in nature. Synthetic biology, which collectively refers to concepts, approaches, and …

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Industrialization of Biology: A Roadmap to Accelerate the Advanced Manufacturing of Chemicals

The tremendous progress in biology over the last half century – from Watson and Crick’s elucidation of the structure of DNA to today’s astonishing, rapid progress in the field of synthetic biology – has positioned us for significant innovation in …

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Life Sciences and Related Fields: Trends Relevant to the Biological Weapons Convention

During the last decade, national and international scientific organizations have become increasingly engaged in considering how to respond to the biosecurity implications of developments in the life sciences and in assessing trends in science and …

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Preparing for Future Products of Biotechnology

Between 1973 and 2016, the ways to manipulate DNA to endow new characteristics in an organism (that is, biotechnology) have advanced, enabling the development of products that were not previously possible. What will the likely future products of …

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Dual Use Research of Concern in the Life Sciences: Current Issues and Controversies

The potential misuse of advances in life sciences research is raising concerns about national security threats. Dual Use Research of Concern in the Life Sciences: Current Issues and Controversies examines the U.S. strategy for reducing …

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Countering Bioterrorism: The Role of Science and Technology

The attacks of September 11 and the release of anthrax spores revealed enormous vulnerabilities in the U.S. public-health infrastructure and suggested similar vulnerabilities in the agricultural infrastructure as well. The traditional public …

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Supporting Women in STEM

Released on Tuesday, Sexual Harassment of Women focuses on one of many roadblocks to the recruitment, retention, and promotion of women in academia. The reports listed below explore these issues and offer recommendations to better support women in these roles.

Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Over the last few decades, research, activity, and funding has been devoted to improving the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in the fields of science, engineering, and medicine. In recent years the diversity of those participating in these fields, particularly the participation …

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Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering

The United States economy relies on the productivity, entrepreneurship, and creativity of its people. To maintain its scientific and engineering leadership amid increasing economic and educational globalization, the United States must aggressively pursue the innovative capacity of all its …

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Seeking Solutions: Maximizing American Talent by Advancing Women of Color in Academia: Summary of a Conference

Seeking Solutions: Maximizing American Talent by Advancing Women of Color in Academia is the summary of a 2013 conference convened by the Committee on Women in Science, Engineering and Medicine of the National Research Council to discuss the current status of women of color in academia …

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Gender Differences at Critical Transitions in the Careers of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Faculty

Gender Differences at Critical Transitions in the Careers of Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Faculty presents new and surprising findings about career differences between female and male full-time, tenure-track, and tenured faculty in science, engineering, and mathematics at the …

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To Recruit and Advance: Women Students and Faculty in Science and Engineering

Although more women than men participate in higher education in the United States, the same is not true when it comes to pursuing careers in science and engineering. To Recruit and Advance: Women Students and Faculty in Science and Engineering identifies and discusses better practices for …

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Career Choices of Female Engineers: A Summary of a Workshop

Despite decades of government, university, and employer efforts to close the gender gap in engineering, women make up only 11 percent of practicing engineers in the United States. What factors influence women graduates’ decisions to enter the engineering workforce and either to stay in or leave …

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Blueprint for the Future: Framing the Issues of Women in Science in a Global Context: Summary of a Workshop

The scientific work of women is often viewed through a national or regional lens, but given the growing worldwide connectivity of most, if not all, scientific disciplines, there needs to be recognition of how different social, political, and economic mechanisms impact women’s participation in …

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Who Will Do the Science of the Future?: A Symposium on Careers of Women in Science

Who Will Do the Science of the Future? is the summary of a symposium on careers of women in science. The symposium incorporated three panels of presenters: one focusing on the next generation, Science for All Students; a second that looks in depth at the issues reflected in one particular field of …

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Women in the Chemical Workforce: A Workshop Report to the Chemical Sciences Roundtable

For a period of history no women worked outside the home. Bust as years have gone by and society has changed, Women are working varying jobs every day. They are, however, underrepresented in some sectors of jobs. This includes women in the engineering and science fields. To matters worse, women …

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Understanding Climate Change

Climate change continues to pose significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems. The current warming trend is growing at an unprecedented rate – this year the U.S. saw its warmest May on record. Our collection of reports emphasize the importance of 21st century choices regarding long-term climate stabilization through improving understanding of the causes and consequences of climate change and expanding the options available to limit the magnitude of climate change.

Climate Change: Evidence and Causes

Climate Change: Evidence and Causes is a jointly produced publication of The US National Academy of Sciences and The Royal Society. Written by a UK-US team of leading climate scientists and reviewed by climate scientists and others, the publication is intended as a brief, readable …

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Attribution of Extreme Weather Events in the Context of Climate Change

As climate has warmed over recent years, a new pattern of more frequent and more intense weather events has unfolded across the globe. Climate models simulate such changes in extreme events, and some of the reasons for the changes are well understood. Warming increases the likelihood of …

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Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises

Climate is changing, forced out of the range of the past million years by levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases not seen in the Earth’s atmosphere for a very, very long time. Lacking action by the world’s nations, it is clear that the planet will be warmer, sea level will rise, and …

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Arctic Matters: The Global Connection to Changes in the Arctic

Viewed in satellite images as a jagged white coat draped over the top of the globe, the high Arctic appears distant and isolated. But even if you don’t live there, don’t do business there, and will never travel there, you are closer to the Arctic than you think. Arctic Matters: The Global …

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Enhancing Participation in the U.S. Global Change Research Program

The US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) is a collection of 13 Federal entities charged by law to assist the United States and the world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change. As the understanding of global change has evolved …

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The Arctic in the Anthropocene: Emerging Research Questions

Once ice-bound, difficult to access, and largely ignored by the rest of the world, the Arctic is now front and center in the midst of many important questions facing the world today. Our daily weather, what we eat, and coastal flooding are all interconnected with the future of the Arctic. The …

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America’s Climate Choices

Climate change is occurring. It is very likely caused by the emission of greenhouse gases from human activities, and poses significant risks for a range of human and natural systems. And these emissions continue to increase, which will result in further change and greater …

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Social and Emotional Learning

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) determines our ability to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. Recognizing the essential role this process plays in a child’s development, a growing number of schools and districts are incorporating SEL into their strategic plans and curricula. Our reports serve as resources to guide this implementation and discuss the science behind SEL.

Preventing Bullying Through Science, Policy, and Practice

Bullying has long been tolerated as a rite of passage among children and adolescents. There is an implication that individuals who are bullied must have “asked for” this type of treatment, or deserved it. Sometimes, even the child who is bullied …

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Approaches to the Development of Character: Proceedings of a Workshop

The development of character is a valued objective for many kinds of educational programs that take place both in and outside of school. Educators and administrators who develop and run programs that seek to develop character recognize that the …

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Early Childhood Assessment: Why, What, and How

The assessment of young children’s development and learning has recently taken on new importance. Private and government organizations are developing programs to enhance the school readiness of all young children, especially children from …

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Exploring Early Childhood Care and Education Levers to Improve Population Health: Proceedings of a Workshop

On September 14, 2017, the Roundtable on Population Health Improvement of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened a workshop to explore the intersection of health and early childhood care and education, two key …

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Exploring Opportunities for Collaboration Between Health and Education to Improve Population Health: Workshop Summary

Research based on decades of experience in the developing world has identified educational status, especially the status of the mother, as a major predictor of health outcomes and that the literature indicates that the gradient in health outcomes …

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Building Capacity to Reduce Bullying: Workshop Summary

Bullying – long tolerated as just a part of growing up – finally has been recognized as a substantial and preventable health problem. Bullying is associated with anxiety, depression, poor school performance, and future delinquent behavior among …

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Innovations in Design and Utilization of Measurement Systems to Promote Children’s Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Health: Workshop Summary

Many measurement systems to monitor the well-being of children and guide services are implemented across the community, state, and national levels in the United States. While great progress has been made in recent years in developing …

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Summertime Opportunities to Promote Healthy Child and Adolescent Development: Proceedings of a Workshop—in Brief

What children and adolescents do and learn in the summertime can have profound effects on their health and well-being, educational attainment, and career prospects. To explore the influence of summertime activities on the lives of young people, …

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The Future of Urban Planning

Cities have experienced an unprecedented rate of growth in the last decade, and this continued growth highlights the importance of a sustainable future. More than half the world’s population lives in urban areas, with the U.S. percentage at 80 percent. Cities have captured more than 80 percent of the globe’s economic activity and offered social mobility and economic prosperity to millions by clustering creative, innovative, and educated individuals and organizations. Clustering populations, however, can compound both positive and negative conditions, with many modern urban areas experiencing growing inequality, debility, and environmental degradation. Our reports recommend strategies and pathways that will aid in the ongoing development of urban planning.

Pathways to Urban Sustainability: Challenges and Opportunities for the United States

Cities have experienced an unprecedented rate of growth in the last decade. More than half the world’s population lives in urban areas, with the U.S. percentage at 80 percent. Cities have captured more than 80 percent of the globe’s economic …

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Urban Forestry: Toward an Ecosystem Services Research Agenda: A Workshop Summary

Much of the ecological research in the past decades has focused on rural or wilderness areas. Today, however, ecological research has been taking place in our cities, where our everyday decisions can have profound effects on our environment. …

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Livable Cities of the Future: Proceedings of a Symposium Honoring the Legacy of George Bugliarello

At the beginning of the 20th century an estimated five percent of the world’s population lived in cities. Today, half the world’s population is urbanized. Urban sustainability is multifaceted and encompasses security, economics, environment and …

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Healthy, Resilient, and Sustainable Communities After Disasters: Strategies, Opportunities, and Planning for Recovery

In the devastation that follows a major disaster, there is a need for multiple sectors to unite and devote new resources to support the rebuilding of infrastructure, the provision of health and social services, the restoration of care delivery …

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Communities in Action: Pathways to Health Equity

In the United States, some populations suffer from far greater disparities in health than others. Those disparities are caused not only by fundamental differences in health status across segments of the population, but also because of inequities …

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Transportation Systems for Livable Communities

TRB’s Conference Proceedings on the Web 6: Transportation Systems for Livable Communities summarizes the results of an October 2010 conference that explored the challenges of incorporating livability into transportation programs and …

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International Day of Light

The International Day of Light recognizes the anniversary of the first successful operation of the laser in 1960 by physicist and engineer, Theodore Maiman. We acknowledge this day in history in an effort to improve the public understanding of how light and light-based technologies touch our daily lives beyond scientific applications, including aspects of art, culture, entertainment. Our publications explore these technologies and highlight their importance to the future development of our global society.

Optics and Photonics: Essential Technologies for Our Nation

Optics and photonics technologies are ubiquitous: they are responsible for the displays on smart phones and computing devices, optical fiber that carries the information in the internet, advanced precision manufacturing, enhanced defense capabilities, and a plethora of medical diagnostics tools. …

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Controlling the Quantum World: The Science of Atoms, Molecules, and Photons

As part of the Physics 2010 decadal survey project, the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation requested that the National Research Council assess the opportunities, over roughly the next decade, in atomic, molecular, and optical (AMO) science and technology. In particular, …

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Assessment of Solid-State Lighting, Phase Two

The standard incandescent light bulb, which still works mainly as Thomas Edison invented it, converts more than 90% of the consumed electricity into heat. Given the availability of newer lighting technologies that convert a greater percentage of electricity into useful light, there is potential …

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Seeing Photons: Progress and Limits of Visible and Infrared Sensor Arrays

The Department of Defense recently highlighted intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities as a top priority for U.S. warfighters. Contributions provided by ISR assets in the operational theaters in Iraq and Afghanistan have been widely documented in press reporting. While …

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Opportunities in Intense Ultrafast Lasers: Reaching for the Brightest Light

The laser has revolutionized many areas of science and society, providing bright and versatile light sources that transform the ways we investigate science and enables trillions of dollars of commerce. Now a second laser revolution is underway with pulsed petawatt-class lasers (1 petawatt: 1 …

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Celebrate The Teachers in Your Life This Week

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! We know that with long hours and dedication, teachers and administrators are taking on the challenge of implementing new science standards. We’re here to help! Our resources communicate the framework and standards for NGSS, provide guidance on assessment, and support professional development. As a token of appreciation for all that you do, use code NGSS18 for a 25% discount off the list price for all our titles, now through June 30th.

Seeing Students Learn Science: Integrating Assessment and Instruction in the Classroom

Science educators in the United States are adapting to a new vision of how students learn science. Children are natural explorers and their observations and intuitions about the world around them are the foundation for science learning. …

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Science Teachers’ Learning: Enhancing Opportunities, Creating Supportive Contexts

Currently, many states are adopting the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) or are revising their own state standards in ways that reflect the NGSS. For students and schools, the implementation of any science standards rests with teachers. …

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Guide to Implementing the Next Generation Science Standards

A Framework for K-12 Science Education and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) describe a new vision for science learning and teaching that is catalyzing improvements in science classrooms across the United States. Achieving …

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Design, Selection, and Implementation of Instructional Materials for the Next Generation Science Standards: Proceedings of a Workshop

Instructional materials are a key means to achieving the goals of science education—an enterprise that yields unique and worthwhile benefits to individuals and society. As states and districts move forward with adoption and implementation of …

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Developing Assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards

Assessments, understood as tools for tracking what and how well students have learned, play a critical role in the classroom. Developing Assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards develops an approach to science assessment to …

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Next Generation Science Standards: For States, By States

Next Generation Science Standards identifies the science all K-12 students should know. These new standards are based on the National Research Council’s A Framework for K-12 Science Education. The National Research Council, the …

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A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas

Science, engineering, and technology permeate nearly every facet of modern life and hold the key to solving many of humanity’s most pressing current and future challenges. The United States’ position in the global economy is declining, in part …

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Ready, Set, SCIENCE!: Putting Research to Work in K-8 Science Classrooms

What types of instructional experiences help K-8 students learn science with understanding? What do science educators, teachers, teacher leaders, science specialists, professional development staff, curriculum designers, and school administrators …

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Surrounded by Science: Learning Science in Informal Environments

Practitioners in informal science settings–museums, after-school programs, science and technology centers, media enterprises, libraries, aquariums, zoos, and botanical gardens–are interested in finding out what learning looks like, how to …

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Preparing for National Hurricane Preparedness Week

It’s never too early to prepare for a hurricane. In advance of National Hurricane Preparedness Week, which begins on May 6, we wanted to share our resources that support hurricane preparedness and resilience.  Explore the full emergency preparedness/disaster management collection here.

Emergency Alert and Warning Systems: Current Knowledge and Future Research Directions

Following a series of natural disasters, including Hurricane Katrina, that revealed shortcomings in the nation’s ability to effectively alert populations at risk, Congress passed the Warning, Alert, and Response Network (WARN) Act in 2006. Today, new technologies such as smart phones and …

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Integrating Social and Behavioral Sciences Within the Weather Enterprise

Our ability to observe and forecast severe weather events has improved markedly over the past few decades. Forecasts of snow and ice storms, hurricanes and storm surge, extreme heat, and other severe weather events are made with greater accuracy, geographic specificity, and lead time to allow …

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Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative

No person or place is immune from disasters or disaster-related losses. Infectious disease outbreaks, acts of terrorism, social unrest, or financial disasters in addition to natural hazards can all lead to large-scale consequences for the nation and its communities. Communities and the nation …

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Healthy, Resilient, and Sustainable Communities After Disasters: Strategies, Opportunities, and Planning for Recovery

In the devastation that follows a major disaster, there is a need for multiple sectors to unite and devote new resources to support the rebuilding of infrastructure, the provision of health and social services, the restoration of care delivery systems, and other critical recovery needs. In some …

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Strengthening the Disaster Resilience of the Academic Biomedical Research Community: Protecting the Nation’s Investment

The academic biomedical research community is a hub of employment, economic productivity, and scientific progress. Academic research institutions are drivers of economic development in their local and state economies and, by extension, the national economy. Beyond the economic input that the …

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Reducing Coastal Risk on the East and Gulf Coasts

Hurricane- and coastal-storm-related losses have increased substantially during the past century, largely due to increases in population and development in the most susceptible coastal areas. Climate change poses additional threats to coastal communities from sea level rise and possible …

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Dam and Levee Safety and Community Resilience: A Vision for Future Practice

Although advances in engineering can reduce the risk of dam and levee failure, some failures will still occur. Such events cause impacts on social and physical infrastructure that extend far beyond the flood zone. Broadening dam and levee safety programs to consider community- and regional-level …

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The Future of Microbiome Research

Microorganisms are continually with and around us. They reside outdoors in soil and water and coexist indoors where people live and work. They are found in and on pets, plants, and rodents; in water; in dirt tracked indoors on shoes; and in the air that enters buildings. Microorganisms also live on human skin and in systems such as the digestive tract.

Recent studies have taken advantage of the development of novel tools to quantify and sequence the DNA of communities of microbes and study their functions, revealing their abundance and complexity but leaving still more questions than answers about what these communities are doing and what functions they serve in humans, animals, and our environments. These publications examine the current body of knowledge surrounding microbiomes and make recommendations for future research.

Microbiomes of the Built Environment: A Research Agenda for Indoor Microbiology, Human Health, and Buildings

People’s desire to understand the environments in which they live is a natural one. People spend most of their time in spaces and structures designed, built, and managed by humans, and it is estimated that people in developed countries now spend 90 percent of their lives indoors. As people …

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Animal Models for Microbiome Research: Advancing Basic and Translational Science: Proceedings of a Workshop

The surface of the human body and its mucous membranes are heavily colonized by microorganisms. Our understanding of the contributions that complex microbial communities make to health and disease is advancing rapidly. Most microbiome research to date has focused on the mouse as a model organism …

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The Chemistry of Microbiomes: Proceedings of a Seminar Series

The 21st century has witnessed a complete revolution in the understanding and description of bacteria in eco- systems and microbial assemblages, and how they are regulated by complex interactions among microbes, hosts, and environments. The human organism is no longer considered a monolithic …

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Environmental Chemicals, the Human Microbiome, and Health Risk: A Research Strategy

A great number of diverse microorganisms inhabit the human body and are collectively referred to as the human microbiome. Until recently, the role of the human microbiome in maintaining human health was not fully appreciated. Today, however, research is beginning to elucidate associations …

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The Human Microbiome, Diet, and Health: Workshop Summary

The Food Forum convened a public workshop on February 22-23, 2012, to explore current and emerging knowledge of the human microbiome, its role in human health, its interaction with the diet, and the translation of new research findings into tools and products that improve the nutritional …

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Microbial Ecology in States of Health and Disease: Workshop Summary

Individually and collectively, resident microbes play important roles in host health and survival. Shaping and shaped by their host environments, these microorganisms form intricate communities that are in a state of dynamic equilibrium. This ecologic and dynamic view of host-microbe …

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The Science and Applications of Microbial Genomics: Workshop Summary

Over the past several decades, new scientific tools and approaches for detecting microbial species have dramatically enhanced our appreciation of the diversity and abundance of the microbiota and its dynamic interactions with the environments within which these microorganisms reside. The first …

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Toward Precision Medicine: Building a Knowledge Network for Biomedical Research and a New Taxonomy of Disease

Motivated by the explosion of molecular data on humans-particularly data associated with individual patients-and the sense that there are large, as-yet-untapped opportunities to use this data to improve health outcomes, Toward Precision Medicine explores the feasibility and need for “a …

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The Social Biology of Microbial Communities: Workshop Summary

Beginning with the germ theory of disease in the 19th century and extending through most of the 20th century, microbes were believed to live their lives as solitary, unicellular, disease-causing organisms . This perception stemmed from the focus of most investigators on organisms that could be …

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Caring for an Aging Population

This year marks the 10th anniversary of our influential book, Retooling for an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce. It called for bold initiatives to train all health care providers in the basics of geriatric care and to prepare family members and other informal caregivers, who might receive little or no training in how to tend to their aging loved ones. Retooling for an Aging America and our other publications remain essential resources for the care of our aging population.

Retooling for an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce

As the first of the nation’s 78 million baby boomers begin reaching age 65 in 2011, they will face a health care workforce that is too small and woefully unprepared to meet their specific health needs.

Retooling for an Aging America calls for bold initiatives starting immediately to train …

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Families Caring for an Aging America

Family caregiving affects millions of Americans every day, in all walks of life. At least 17.7 million individuals in the United States are caregivers of an older adult with a health or functional limitation. The nation’s family caregivers provide the lion’s share of long-term care for our …

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Dying in America: Improving Quality and Honoring Individual Preferences Near the End of Life

For patients and their loved ones, no care decisions are more profound than those made near the end of life. Unfortunately, the experience of dying in the United States is often characterized by fragmented care, inadequate treatment of distressing symptoms, frequent transitions among care …

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The Mental Health and Substance Use Workforce for Older Adults: In Whose Hands?

At least 5.6 million to 8 million–nearly one in five–older adults in America have one or more mental health and substance use conditions, which present unique challenges for their care. With the number of adults age 65 and older projected to soar from 40.3 million in 2010 to 72.1 million by …

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Strengthening the Workforce to Support Community Living and Participation for Older Adults and Individuals with Disabilities: Proceedings of a Workshop

As the demographics of the United States shift toward a population that is made up of an increasing percentage of older adults and people with disabilities, the workforce that supports and enables these individuals is also shifting to meet the demands of this population. For many older adults …

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Financing Long-Term Services and Supports for Individuals with Disabilities and Older Adults: Workshop Summary

Financing Long-Term Services and Supports for Individuals with Disabilities and Older Adults is the summary of a workshop convened in June 2013 by the Forum on Aging, Disability, and Independence of the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council to examine the financing of …

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Policy and Research Needs to Maximize Independence and Support Community Living: Workshop Summary

Living independently and participating in one’s community are priorities for many people. In many regions across the United States, there are programs that support and enable people with disabilities and older adults to live where they choose and with whom they choose and to participate fully …

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New Directions in the Sociology of Aging

The aging of the population of the United States is occurring at a time of major economic and social changes. These economic changes include consideration of increases in the age of eligibility for Social Security and Medicare and possible changes in benefit levels. Furthermore, changes in the …

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The Future of Home Health Care: Workshop Summary

Individuals with disabilities, chronic conditions, and functional impairments need a range of services and supports to keep living independently. However, there often is not a strong link between medical care provided in the home and the necessary social services and supports for independent …

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Health Care Comes Home: The Human Factors

In the United States, health care devices, technologies, and practices are rapidly moving into the home. The factors driving this migration include the costs of health care, the growing numbers of older adults, the increasing prevalence of chronic conditions and diseases and improved survival …

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Elder Abuse and Its Prevention: Workshop Summary

Elder Abuse and Its Prevention is the summary of a workshop convened in April 2013 by the Institute of Medicine’s Forum on Global Violence Prevention. Using an ecological framework, this workshop explored the burden of elder abuse around the world, focusing on its impacts on individuals, …

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Elder Mistreatment: Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation in an Aging America

Since the late 1970s when Congressman Claude Pepper held widely publicized hearings on the mistreatment of the elderly, policy makers and practitioners have sought ways to protect older Americans from physical, psychological, and financial abuse. Yet, during the last 20 years fewer than 50 articles …

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